Music News Digest, Aug. 28, 2019

Frank Dukes (pictured) and RPSM are shown love by Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes does well at the VMAs, and Tragically Hip Radio plays on Sirius XM. Others in the news include Emily Reid, Big Wreck, Chris Kirby, Ontario Creates, Canadian Brass, CFMAs, MMF, and farewell Dave Richardson and Neal Casal. Video added.

Music News Digest, Aug. 28, 2019

By Kerry Doole

Released on Friday and already a smash hit, Taylor Swift's latest album, Lover, has a significant Canadian connection. The Regent Park School of Music in Toronto is sampled on the song It's Nice to Have a Friend, produced by Toronto's Frank Dukes along with Louis Bell and Swift. The youth choir can be heard playing instruments and singing backup, which came about as part of a collaboration with Dukes called Parkscapes. It is available through Dukes' Kingsway Music Library.

“It’s incredible to hear one of the world’s most popular artists using the RPSM (Regent Park School of Music) students’ music as a part of her own song," said Dukes. Swift has reportedly made a “generous” donation towards the school.  Read a recent Globe and Mail profile of Dukes and the Parkscapes project here. Sources: CBC, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star


– The video for the Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello smash hit Señorita won two trophies at the MTV VMA Awards 2019 on Monday night, for Best Collaboration and Best Cinematography. Mendes (who also performed on the show) was the only Canadian to win, with Drake missing out in the categories for which he was nominated. Big winners on the night were Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Lil Nas X, Cardi B, and Billie Eilish. See a complete winners list here 

– SiriusXM Canada has announced that The Tragically Hip Radio – the famed band's only official channel –  is live now online and on the SiriusXM app. The new channel, available via SiriusXM Streaming, will feature curated music from across The Hip's vast catalogue and will celebrate the band's musical legacy. Listeners will also have access to never-been-aired live recordings from the band's vault; archived interviews and track-by-track sit-downs with Gord Downie, Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois, and Gord Sinclair; solo work from all members. The band will also host and program specialty shows from its Bathouse Studios. 


–  Young BC country artist Emily Reid has released her debut EP with Universal Music Canada, Wine, with the title track out as a new single and video. She performs at the CCMA’s Songwriters Series showcase on Sept. 7 in Calgary, then has three BC shows supporting Kip Moore, Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.

–  Big Wreck releases a new album ..but for the sun on Friday, to be followed up with an extensive Canadian (and American) tour.  East Coast rock group Texas King has been added as support act. Canadian dates begin at Vancouver's Commodore on Oct. 31, closing out Dec. 20 at Toronto's Danforth Music Hall. Tickets for all shows are on sale 

– East Coast soul singer/songwriter Chris Kirby has just released his second single, Better Not Let Me Down, taken from an upcoming album. Caveboy vocalist Michelle Bensimon co-wrote the song, and she sings on the track. Kirby is also a producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has worked with Matt Andersen, The East Pointers,  Stephen Fearing, The Once, Tim Chaisson, and more.

–  The Ontario Creates Film Fund – Production streams (Drama and Documentary) is accepting applications for Cycle 3. Deadline is Oct. 30. Guidelines here 


– Trumpet player, Brandon Ridenour has rejoined the internationally-renowned Canadian Brass, replacing Christopher Coletti. Ridenour had recommended that Coletti join the group ten years ago. At the age of twenty, Ridenour became the youngest member ever to join the ensemble, a position he held for seven years and that saw him record on 10 CB albums.

– The Canadian Folk Music Awards has extended the deadline to accept applications for the 2020 Unsung Hero Award until Aug. 31. Submit here


–  MMF (Music Managers Forum) Canada has six spots for its board of directors up for election. Members interested in making a difference are encouraged to nominate themselves by filling out this form.  Deadline is Sept. 18. The org recently launched a new website  


Thomas David (Dave) Richardson, retired Saanich, BC, policeman and Wildflower lyricist, died Aug. 25 in Victoria, after a short illness. His age was not given.

Richardson's lyrics for the 1970 love song Wildflower (reportedly written in just 15 minutes) helped it become one of the most-performed in Canadian popular music.

The lyrics were written as a poem for his girlfriend, a nurse at Royal Jubilee Hospital. He passed it over to friend David Foster, then in the band Skylark, and it found its way into music history after guitarist Doug Edwards gave it a melody.

Since then, Wildflower has sold millions of copies in more than 75 versions. It has been interpreted by the likes of Hank Crawford, Johnny Mathis, the Neville Brothers, and Colour Me Badd. It has been awarded a BMI Millionaire’s Award and SOCAN Classic and Crystal Awards and has received over 2 million plays in the US as well as being sampled on numerous hit urban music recordings. The song was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011.

Richardson was born in Pembroke, Ont,. in 1942 and he went on to serve 30 years with the Saanich Police Department from 1966 to 1997, reaching the rank of staff sergeant. He then moved to Jerusalem, Israel, to open a kitchen to feed the homeless and the needy, and eventually returned to Canada.

A celebration of life will be announced at a later date. Sources: Times Colonist, BJ Cook 

Neal Casal, US guitarist/songwriter, died on Aug. 25 at age 50, reportedly taking his own life.


The solo performer was also co-founder of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and Circles Around the Sun and a former member of Ryan Adams' band The Cardinals and Blackfoot.

He released a dozen solo albums, starting in 1995 with Fade Away Diamond Time, up to 2011's Sweeten the Distance. He played in Ryan Adams' band, The Cardinals, from 2005 to 2011, and, beginning in 2012, he toured and recorded with former Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson's band, The Brotherhood.

Casal's playing was also featured on albums by James Iha, Lucinda Williams, The Fruit Bats, Duncan Sheik, Robert Randolph and the Family Band and Willie Nelson, and more. Source: Billboard

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The Weeknd Spotted at Kendrick Lamar's 'Pop Out' Concert in Los Angeles

Unlike former Toronto Raptor DeMar DeRozan, the Scarborough-born artist never got onstage, but he was in the audience of the show that featured Drake diss tracks 'Not Like Us' and 'Euphoria.'

Kendrick Lamar took over the internet last night (June. 19) with his "Pop Out" concert live-streamed on Prime Video from the Kia Forum in Los Angeles. If it wasn't clear Kendrick had won public opinion in his beef with Drake, it was when the stage united cultural figures from L.A. — from up-and-comers to legends like Dr. Dre, basketball stars like Russell Westbrook, even someone Drake name-dropped in one of his diss tracks, DJ Mustard — to dance along to the scathing "Not Like Us."

DeMar DeRozan, the beloved former Toronto Raptor who was once close enough to Drake that he spilled the beans on an upcoming mixtape joined fellow L.A.-born NBA player Westbrook onstage at the Forum during "Not Like Us."

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